Poor Evgeni

It seems that Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was not entirely happy about his Silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics, mainly because Plushenko landed a quadruple jump while Gold medalist Evan Lycasek (from the United States) did not. Plushenko made all manner of public comments about how he is surprised that one can win a Gold medal without doing a quad, and that without a quad, “men’s figure skating” is reduced to ice dancing.

Well, cry me a river.

Many skating observers, even armchair ones myself who really can’t tell a Salchow jump from a toe-loop jump unless the announcers tell me which is which, have thought for a number of years that skating has become too jump-focused, to the point where competitions ever since, say, Nagano in 1998 have basically boiled down to who lands the most quads without falling. When that was the reigning paradigm in skating, it was little trouble for a guy like Plushenko to win consistently, because — and here’s the dirty truth about him — Plushenko is ultimately a one-trick pony.

Evgeni Plushenko is a skater who essentially turns in boring, personality-free performances into which he inserts spectacular jumps. He’s an amazing jumper, maybe the best pure jumper ever, but everything else he does is just dull. This has tended, in my view, to be the case with Russian men in general; only Alexei Yagudin — Gold in Salt Lake City in ’02 — of the recent Russian male domination didn’t bore me with his programs. Other than him, all of the Russian men who have won since Brian Boitano’s win in 1988 have been boring skaters who won by landing perfect jumps. (The most categorically insane Olympic victory was 1994’s, when Alexei Urmanov sleepskated to Gold over Elvis Stojko’s inifinitely more interesting programs.)

Now, finally, it seems that figure skating has started to push the pendulum back the other way, taking the emphasis back off jumps in general and the quad specifically, thus making the quad less of a silver bullet maneuver than it’s been of late. That bugs Plushenko, obviously, but he’ll just have to get over it. To flip his complaint around: it’s called figure skating, not ice jumping. If he thinks that’s what should determine the winners, then maybe a new event should take place featuring jumping and nothing else. Hell, we could even get rid of the music and the funky outfits and just have the skaters come out and do jumps in front of an audience. Then Plushenko could quad to his heart’s content and dominate in the only way he really knows how.

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5 Responses to Poor Evgeni

  1. Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness says:

    I totally agree with you on this one. Skating has and should always be one part technical proficiency and one part artistry. That is what the Russian boob doesn't get. I want the flash, I want the gay, I want the spectacle. If I want to see MEN skate I will watch hockey. The Russian's performance was stiff and the fact that he got the silver was skatings way of telling him he can go now. Anyone who bitches about the medal he didn't get doesn't understand the spirit of sport or the Olympics. What a cry baby – but that is what Russians do and are.

  2. Roger Owen Green says:

    But the MOST boring skater of the last couple decades had to be Timothy Goebel, who could land quads, but was otherwise a BORING skater. I used to refer to him – to my wife – as Jumper Boy.

    WV: rantsubb – the rant I do instead of the rant I was going to do.

  3. Aaron says:

    I can't believe people can't figure out which comments go with which posts.

  4. Aaron says:


  5. Call me Paul says:

    Just reinforces the fact that figure skating really doesn't belong in the Olympics in the first place.

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